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Working as secretary for three churches a juggling act done with finesse

If someone had told Deana Sain Palmer years ago that she would be a church secretary someday, she wouldn’t have believed it.
If someone had told her she’d be the secretary for three different churches, she probably would have had a good laugh.
But that’s exactly what she is.
Palmer, a Cat Square native, works for three different area Lutheran churches, Bethphage, Daniels and Trinity, where she is a member.
It all started when Palmer moved back to the area from Kannapolis with her husband Kris and daughter Rachel, who was quite young at the time. Palmer has degrees in marketing and management from Appalachian State University, but wanted to stay home with her child.
“I took a part-time job so I could be home with Rachel,” said Palmer.
That part-time job was as the secretary at Bethphage Lutheran Church, located on NC 182. Palmer says the church was a good fit for several reasons. Her cousin, Cale Sain, is the music director and she and her parents know many members of the congregation.
September will mark five years that Palmer has worked at Bethphage.
About three-and-a-half years ago, Palmer also went to work for Daniel’s Lutheran on Reepsville Road.
“Reverend Bost asked if I’d be interested,” said Palmer.
The answer was yes and Palmer began working at Daniel’s part-time, handling bulletins and other church publications.
Trinity Lutheran Church, also located on Reepsville Road, was the last of the three churches to gain Palmer as an employee. It seemed only natural that she should end up working at Trinity; it’s the church where Palmer was baptized and her father’s family has a long history there.
The position also happened to be exactly what Palmer was looking for.
“I wanted to start working full-time, but I didn’t want to give up (Bethphage),” Palmer said. “It was the perfect opportunity to be close to home. I can take my daughter to school.”
She has been working there for almost two years.
Surprisingly, Palmer says it has never been difficult to balance working for three different churches. Yet she does point out the challenges of working for three different ministers who each have their own way of doing things.
The fact that all three pastors know each other does make things a bit easier.
“We’re all on the same page,” said Palmer. “I have a good enough relationship with them that if I have a problem I can tell them about it.”
Having a good rapport with all three of her bosses comes in handy when things come up at one church that keep her from her duties at another. When there’s a funeral, each minister understands that Palmer has to give it her immediate attention.
Yet each minister also knows he can count on Palmer to get that week’s church bulletin done on time, even if she has to work late into the night.
Palmer enjoys all three of her jobs. She says it’s nice to get to see the human side of the pastors for whom she works and there is plenty of on-the-job fun.
Soon, Palmer’s responsibilities at Daniel’s Lutheran will increase, as she begins to handle the church’s bookkeeping, something she already does for Bethphage.
Holidays, especially Easter, keep Palmer particularly busy, with each church in need of several bulletins.
But no matter how busy Palmer gets, the nature of her job means daughter Rachel, 6, and 1-year-old son Davis are never put on the back burner.
“I have so much flexibility,” Palmer said. “If I have to bring the kids to work with me or take them to the doctor it’s okay.”
While being a church secretary isn’t the most pressure-packed job in the world, it does have its demands.
“I make one typo and 200 people see it,” said Palmer. “My mom and my aunt are always the first ones to point them out.”
Once, while printing out newsletters for a Relay for Life fundraiser at Trinity, Palmer accidentally advertised that “hand and cheese sandwiches” would be served. She says people have never let her forget that one.
Based on attendance estimates for all three churches, Palmer has more than 400 people counting on her each week. That’s a lot of church bulletins.
Add to that handling bookkeeping responsibilities at two of the churches and Palmer is one busy lady.
Yet she loves what she does and, at the end of the day, Palmer says she wouldn’t change a thing.
by Allyson Levine

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